Monday, 2 March 2020

Hold back the popcorn, for the time being

The constructive dismissal hearing for the former Permanent Secretary at the Home Office looks like being a spectator event not to be missed, if it actually goes ahead.  I’m assuming that the grieved party has lots of juicy evidence about the way the Home Secretary has behaved; the sort of stuff which would embarrass any normal Prime Minister in ordinary times but which, in this case, is likely only (in his own eyes at least) to confirm his good judgement in appointing Patel to the role.  It’s a big ‘if’ though.
At the moment, he’s clearly very angry and looking forward to his day in court but the intensity of anger fades over time, and pragmatic considerations usually kick in eventually.  It was reported that he’s already been in negotiations over a payoff but that those negotiations have foundered – apparently over the lack of an assurance from Johnson and Patel that they would issue a supportive statement if he were to be the subject of further negative briefings.  Unless he can demonstrate that the situation has arisen as a result of discrimination against him on the grounds of one of the ‘protected characteristics’ (race, gender, etc), the amount of money he could win at any tribunal is capped – and that cap is probably significantly lower than any amount he’s already been offered, let alone any new offer which may now be forthcoming.  It is a misconception that UK law protects people against unfair dismissal – it does not.  It allows any employer to sack people at random, with only two provisos – that they avoid doing so on the basis of the protected characteristics (when damages can be unlimited), and that they are willing to open their cheque books and pay a sum significantly in excess of what the sacked employee could ever win at a tribunal.  Faced with the stress and uncertainty of a tribunal in which the employee might not win, or at best win only a smaller uncertain sum of money, the attraction of settling for the certainty of a larger sum usually proves too strong to resist. 
I’m surprised that Johnson and Patel have been unwilling to give him the assurance that he seeks.  After all, giving cast-iron assurances is almost a Johnson specialism – it’s keeping them, rather than giving them, which always seems to cause him a problem.  I’m even more surprised that Rutnam has asked for such an assurance; on the basis of his own personal experience he’d have to be out of his mind to trust one, even if it were given.  If negotiations to arrive at a settlement fail as a result, and the case does indeed get to be heard before a tribunal, there would be a delicious irony if that were to be the direct result of the PM’s serial untrustworthiness.  But it’s too early to break out the popcorn for this particular spectacle yet.

1 comment:

dafis said...

like watching a bloody circus except the circus animals have far more integrity and innocence than the "animals" in this particular show. Getting very tiresome and they've only been in post 2-3 months.